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ERP helps to solve the biggest produce supply chain problem


The produce industry faces many challenges, but its single greatest concern is time. With a highly perishable product, leaders need a logistics solution that will help them move their product with speed and efficiency at every level, from the moment it’s harvested to the moment it arrives on the consumer’s plate. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a solution that can touch every aspect of the supply chain; growers, shippers, suppliers, distribution centers and vendors. 

The ERP solution

In the not-too-distant past, produce inventory was managed manually; compiling information was slow and labor intensive. Everyone managed their inventory the same way, so there were few competitive disadvantages. That has changed since the introduction of well-designed ERP systems that have automated inventory management. ERP provides visibility into the daily and weekly activities of the warehouse, as well as past sales results and forecasted trends.

ERP systems beat the clock by using data

Because every organization along the produce supply chain is highly dependent on the others, it is essential that they exchange accurate information. In an industry as complex and time-sensitive as produce, that’s a lot of information to share. An ERP system coordinates everything, so stakeholders know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to adjust if problems arise.

The key is that automated information is easily accessible to everyone who needs it. For example, a warehouse manager needs to know exactly when to expect produce arriving in the warehouse, so that he or she can accurately schedule outbound trucks to meet their delivery deadlines. Without an ERP, much of this crucial information would be lost, never received, delayed or inaccurate.

ERP helps companies plan ahead

At each point in the produce supply chain, there’s one burning question: “what am I going to need and when?” This question extends from the grower who needs to know how much and what to plant, to the warehouse that needs to know which products are popular, to the food service vendor that needs to know how much to order. And each member of the supply chain may require secondary suppliers if their primary supplier can’t meet demand.

Complex planning solutions use the integration capabilities of an ERP system to gather and analyze key metrics from multiple functional areas. For example, some farm-to-fork trends are popular one year but not the next. Kale has recently become fashionable, and forward-looking suppliers can quickly gear up to capitalize on that trend by using the planning modules of their ERP system. Of course, not all planning is short-term. In some cases, produce plans need to be based on five-year projections because of crops with longer growing cycles.

ERP systems streamline inventory management for greater efficiency

With fast-moving perishable inventory, warehouse managers can’t operate efficiently with only a general idea of what’s in stockand that’s all they have when information is compiled manually. They need to know precisely:

  • What’s in the warehouse (and where)
  • How long until each pallet expires
  • Where it came from
  • Which quality standards they must follow

Once an ERP system is up and running, all of this information that used to be transferred by hand is automatically compiled. It’s accessible and searchable across the company so that the most accurate, up-to-date information is available at everyone’s fingertips.

Time is never on your side, but ERP sure helps

The power of an ERP system lies in the fact that it is automated, integrated and up-to-date. ERP gives produce suppliers a considerable competitive advantage: the ability to create a more efficient farm-to-fork supply chain. From a highly efficient warehouse to the latest information as product moves from one set of hands to another, to the ability to forecast trends and growing demand, the leaders in produce can’t afford not to have the time saving benefits of an ERP solution.


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